The Business Network moves into consumables

An e-commerce hub for the IT industry is expanding its offerings to give resellers the ability to sell consumables online to end users.

The Business Network (TBN) launched its Consumables, Supplies Accessories Program today to

give VARs who specialize in hardware an opportunity to sell printer cartridges, backup tape, recordable media and laptop cases.

“”It allows resellers to target existing customers, expand their contacts and generate additional revenue,”” said Ed Sorozan, director of sales for Ottawa-based TBN.

With the module buyers will be able to order consumables online with as few as three clicks and have them shipped by distributors, saving VARs the cost of warehousing.

One reseller eager to take advantage of the new offering is OnX Enterprise Solutions, which has been selling a small amount of supplies to its customers but wants to sell more.

“”It seems to be a high margin business,”” said Phil De Leon, president of the Toronto-based company. However, he said, in the face of competition from office supply companies “”if you don’t have an (electronic) tool to get in there it’s very hard to do it.””

The TBN tool “”is good for the client, good for us.””

“”If in the first year I can do north of a couple of million (in sales) it’s a good start,”” he added.

Just over a year ago TBN launched its hosted service to link resellers who can’t afford – or don’t want to spend money – building an e-commerce link between their customers, distributors and vendors.

For a set-up fee and a monthly charge (which differs for resellers, distributors and vendors), subscribers get buying and reporting tools. TBN now has 175 resellers who pay for its full suite of tools, and hopes to add another 500 for the consumables service alone this year.

TBN says the advantage for resellers in subscribing to its services is the saving on setting up the XML systems needed for online commerce to access distributor catalogues. For distributors it’s another way to sell products, while vendors get another way to push messages to buyers about special sales and rebates to VARs.

So far the only distributors supported are Tech Data Canada, Ingram Micro Canada and Synnex Canada. However, Sorozan said Azerty, a division of United Stationers Supply Co., will join shortly.

The TBN service still lets VARs negotiate the best deal with distributors or vendors they can get, which will be reflected in the on-screen prices seen by buyers.

The new consumables module will cost resellers a $2,000 set-up fee (which includes training for customers). However, Tech Data and Synnex users will get a $1,500 rebate. TBN is also waiving the $199 monthly fee until Dec. 31.

“”We’ve focused on consumables because it’s repeat business,”” said Sorozan. “”Ninety per cent of a reseller’s business is focused on their core products, not consumables, so that business goes elsewhere.””

Tech Data Canada expects all of the resellers it deals with through TBN will sign up for the module, which is free to existing subscribers. “”It’s a no-brainer,”” said David Spindler, the company’s director of business development.

“”These resellers are getting a lot of pressure from large companies coming into Canada such as CDW, and they’re looking for ways to sell solutions to their end users.””

Resellers will feel they have “”more ownership of the customer”” by selling supplies, he said.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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